CNN was forced to issue a "clarification" to a widely mocked piece that claimed "there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth" while discussing transgender athletes playing women’s sports.
"CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to provide additional explanation as to the distinctions between gender and sex," CNN added to the bottom of the report.
The eyebrow-raising article by CNN breaking news reporter Devan Cole noted South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, R., banned transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports with a pair of executive orders.
Cole reported the executive orders "do not explicitly mention transgender athletes," but instead "echo of the transphobic claim, cited in other similar legislative initiatives, that transgender women are not women." The CNN reporter noted the reference to "biological sex" is disputed by critics before penning the sentence that shocked some readers.
"It’s not possible to know a person's gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth," Cole initially wrote.
The updated version instead reports, "It's not possible to know a person's gender identity at birth, and for some people, the sex listed on their original birth certificate is a misleading way of describing the body they have."
CNN’s original framing was roasted by critics who called it everything from "propaganda" to "nonsense," while others said it denied science. The updated version added additional context.
"While sex is a category that refers broadly to physiology, a person's gender is an innate sense of identity. The factors that go into determining the sex listed on a person's birth certificate may include anatomy, genetics and hormones, and there is broad natural variation in each of these categories," the CNN reporter added. "For this reason, the language of ‘biological sex,’ as used in this legislation, can be overly simplistic and misleading.’"